Korean Air grounds its A330 Fleet with immediate effect for through safety inspection

lasta29, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – South Korean flag carrier Korean Air has announced today that they are grounding their entire fleet of Airbus A330 with immediate effect initiating intense safety inspection.

the exact timeline for its return to service has not been disclosed. However, the carrier has taken this safety audit to an intensive level after the incident that occurred on its A330 fleet.

Korean Air has established that the move has been made to carry through airframe inspection with a “complete safety audit along with external consultancy,” stated the CEO of Korean Air, Woo Kee-Hong. This audit was announced during a high-level meeting with the South Korean Ministry of Transport.  

The incident that forced this A330 grounding occurred on 23rd October and caused overrunning of the runway after various landing attempts at Cebu International Airport in the Philippines.

This incident led to the evacuation of 165 passengers and 11 crew members from the aircraft under emergency safety procedures.

The aircraft that was involved in this incident has suffered damages beyond repairs to extent that the airframe had to be written off from Korean Air’s inventory bearing registration number HL7525.

One of the passengers onboard this aircraft has shared his tweet and quoted by Adrian Nowakowski in his report; which states

Following the Philippines incident, another Korean Air A330 was involved in an engine failure after take-off last Sunday, which forced the aircraft to return to base at Incheon International Airport minutes after taking off towards Sydney.

This second consecutive incident led the carrier to ground its entire fleet of Airbus A330 after directives from the technical team.

After due diligence of these incidents, the carrier has called a meeting between the South Korean Ministry of Transport and the technical directives team of the carrier, which led to mutually agreeing to ground all Korean Air’s Airbus A330 aircraft with the commencement of phasing out its oldest A330s.

Following this announcement, the carrier will be retiring overall nine aircraft of the A330 variant, which were delivered to Korean Air in 1999.

However, in the second incident that occurred at Incheon while heading for Sydney, it was found that the carrier had received the latest unit in January 2021, installed onboard an airframe that is 21 years old, with its previous operator being Czech Airlines and the airframe was approved OK after due diligence by the carrier before handing it over to the Korean Air.

Source – Korean Air Official Website.

With All fleets based out of its hub at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, the fleet mix has aggregated to 158 aircraft, with more than 6 aircraft on the order list with various manufacturers.

The existing fleet size and variation of Korean Air can establish the average Fleet Age at 11.2 years. However, the below table establishes the exact age of each fleet and its service years with Korean Air.

AircraftNumberAgeRank for the age by aircraft type
Airbus A220104.4 yearsOf 19 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 16
Airbus A3302717.3 yearsOf 139 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 126
Airbus A38059.7 yearsOf 11 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 7
Boeing 737 NG / Max2412.7 yearsOf 287 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 148
Boeing 747179.9 yearsOf 65 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 4
Boeing 7774510.3 yearsOf 73 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 34
Boeing 787115 yearsOf 77 airlines operating this type of aircraft Korean Air ranks 32
TOTAL13911.2 yearsThe calculation of the fleet age can be approximated because it is only based on the supported aircraft
Source – Airfleets.net

Following these series of incidents, Korean Air CEO has stated that “Korean Air is aware of the seriousness of the recent events involving our A330 fleet. Safety remains our top priority, and we will analyze and check all security obstacles that may exist at Korean Air from top to bottom, and we will make great efforts to improve them, if necessary.”

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